West End Wilma

Now 2015 has drawn to a close, it is time to reflect upon the shows that have been on in and around London this year. Here are ten of my favourites…

Funny Girl


Hello gorgeous… two words made famous by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 film of Funny Girl which some critics have said no actor has managed to top until now with Sheridan Smith. And they are right. Sheridan is incredible as Fanny Brice, the girl who will stop at nothing to get into show business. If you manage to catch this intimate production at the Menier Chocolate Factory before it transfers into the West End then you are in for a treat. People who see this show really are the luckiest people. Photo: Marc Brenner



I’m not a huge fan of Annie if I’m honest and so the new production of the touring musical didn’t excite me hugely to go and see. But I went along anyway to check it out and I was hugely surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Craig Revel-Horwood played the evil Miss Hannigan very well (although I really wanted to see Lesley Joseph or Jodie Prenger in the role) and all of the kids were fab. The staging and choreography were fresh and exciting and I came away with a totally different opinion of a show I thought I already knew. Photo: Paul Coltas

Show Stopper


Show stopper: the improvised musical had me cringing in my seat when I heard about its premise. I’m sure many of us think there could be nothing worse in life that having to improvise on stage in front of lots of people. I had to do it once and talk about a light bulb for three minutes in one of those team-building events you do at work. It was mortifying and I think about three words came out of my mouth. Thankfully, this team of experienced improvisers relish in the concept and are brilliant at taking a few words and creating an entire musical out of it. Fascinatingly brilliant and every show is 100% different (created from information the audience shouts out at the start of the show). I’m so happy to hear it is returning to the West End in 2016.

Kinky boots


The best feel good musical since Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Killian Donnelly takes on another brilliant role as Charlie from Northampton who inherits his fathers failing shoe factory. With the help of drag queen Lola, they reinvent the company and take their new line of transvestite shoes to Milan Fashion Week! Sound camp? It is and the music is brilliantly written by 80’s pop legend Cyndi Lauper. Photo: Matt Crockett

Dear Lupin


I hadn’t heard of this book before until I went to the launch event for the play and was given a copy to read. I barely put it down for the next two days and loved every page. Being a book of letters that a father wrote to his son over his lifetime, I was curious to see how it would be played out on stage but real life father and son duo, James and Jack Fox, did an amazing job and added dimensions to the story that were not necessarily completely clear in the book itself. A real highlight for me this year. Photo: Manuel Harlan


'Memphis the Musical' Musical performed at the Shaftsbury Theatre, London, Britain...Memphis the Musical at The Shaftsbury Theatre Beverley Knight as Felicia Farrell Alastair Muir

OK, so technically this show opened towards the end of 2014 but most of the show’s life was in 2015 and I think it was still one of the best shows during 2015. Starring Killian Donnelly and then Matt Cardle (when Killian left the show to join Kinky Boots) and the incredible Beverley Knight (who wont the Best Vocal Performance award at the 2015 Wilma Awards). A 5* musical from start to finish and if you missed it you missed out big-time! Luckily they recorded a CD of the show so you can still enjoy the music. Photo: Alastair Muir


" Evelyn Hoskins as Carrie ©Alastair Muir 06.05.15 Carrie 138"

A real favourite of mine this year and it’s probably up there with one of the best. I’m so happy the public voted it Best Off-West End Show at this years Wilma Awards and Evelyn Hoskins the Rising Star Award after her performance in the title role. A great cast and a cult show that famously closed on Broadway after just five performances back in the 1980’s. The show had a successful run at the Southwark Playhouse and I am still hopeful that it will have another lease of life in 2016. Photo: Claire Bilyard


GYPSY by Sondheim, , Music - Stephen Sondheim, based on book by Arthur Laurents, Director - Jonathan Kent, Choreography - Stephen Mear, Designer - Anthony Ward, Lighting - Mark Henderson, Chichester Festival Theatre, 2014, Credit: Johan Persson/

Yes, Imelda Staunton gives an incredible performance as Momma Rose but she is incredible in every show she does. Good People and Sweeney Todd from the last few years have both been outstanding performances from Imelda and so it is no surprise that she shines in this role too. The stagiest of mothers, Momma Rose has one goal in life. To make her children stars on the Vaudeville circuit so she can live vicariously through them. Photo: Johan Persson

Buyer and cellar


Back in March, Ugly Betty TV star Michael Urie took to the stage of the Menier Chocolate Factory to perform this one man comedy show, talking about one of the strangest jobs a person could have. Managing Barbra Streisand’s private basement shopping centre, that is underneath her LA home. Bizarre, hilarious and captivating. A real hightlight. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Nether

The Nether performed at the Royal Court Theatre...The Nether at the Royal Court Theatre Isabella Pappas as Iris, Stanley Townsend as Sims Alastair Muir

One of the best plays of the year on all levels. A thought-provoking story of the digital age we live in and how far things could potentially go wrong if we let them. A brilliant production, set design and some wonderful performances. This show was a tough one to watch but one of the most important shows of this year. Photo: Johan Persson


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